Alright, folks…this one goes way back. 318 B.C. It’s the age of the gladiator. Named for the swords they wielded, gladiators fought against man and beast in front of a roaring crowd. The voices of the common folk echoed in the Colosseum, but less well known throughout history, another voice lifted spirits and energized the crowd: Cheerleaders. In the Roman Empire, cheerleaders were right there in the pits alongside the fighters. But… without weapons. They had to survive and dodge the fights through killer kicks and high-flying maneuvering…much like today. These young cheerleaders often used their fighting spirit for an alternate sport. For those people who didn’t want to see gory deaths of the gladiators, there was another option. Under the hundreds of floors of the Colosseum lay dark, cool catacombs. Here, children would gather and re-create the battles they saw on the stage above. Only without death, blood, or gore. It became something more honorable than gladiator battles, and drew its own crowds, which included adults. These fights were pure sportsmanship. No death or injury was allowed. Instead of fighting lions, the winners of these pint-sized gladiatorial battles adopted stray kittens. These battles, these inspiring endeavors were known in the Latin (pig Latin) as Op-pay Arner-way. (Sound…familiar?) Courageous, young hearts won, lost and lived. The Pee-Wee’s fighting spirit was just beginning. It somehow morphed…quite a bit within the coming years. Fast forward to… 1898 The very first recorded cheer happened this year. Legendary? Sure. But, the position of “yell leader ” had a ways to go until it again rose to honor of its lost gladiatorial days. For some stupid reason, women still wouldn’t be allowed to cheer for another 25 years. Then…suddenly, Pee Wee Cheerleading emerges. 1938 We’re a year after the very first Disney movie, Snow White, and also a couple years after cheerleading became a real, staple thing. Similarly, Pee Wee Cheer is exclusively between the ages of 5-16: the exact age of every fairy tale hero and heroine! Coincidense? We think not. Once you hit 17, your chances of being transported to a magical world drop like Alice through the Looking Glass. 1968 The 70s are coming, and things are looking up for cheerleaders! We traded paper pom-poms for plastic and could now cheer, rain or shine. Women have usurped the men and are now solidly leading cheers. Pee Wee Cheer was hitting its stride as well. The youth group opened its own private school named Pigzits, located in London…Ohio. The teachers at Pigzits Pee Wees were able to assess children’s’ natural abilities and selected only the best of the best to come and learn the magic of cheering at their castle-like school. 1988 The 80s! Neon colors, giant hair, shocking makeup; the 80s was a decade of out-of-this-world outrageousness! Everything was over the top. This is decade in which cheerleading hit its stride. It was over the top…of your head. People were head over heels. Literally! And with the outpouring of 80s dance movies (Footloose, Grease, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun), Pee Wee Cheer started veering away from just sideline cheers and began focusing on rhythm, technique, and stunts. The first National Cheerleading Competition was held this year, and became just as popular as Pee Wee Football. 2018 Today, ‘Pee Wee Cheer’ is a household name. People from all over America tune in to the “kiddie ” Super Bowl, and hundreds of thousands of children try their absolute hardest and make it into the program. Due to kids’ physical prowess, this year is the first ever year they will also be taught ninja skills alongside cheer. When you think about it. the skills of a ninja are actually very closely related to cheer. Flying is useful for getting to the tops of buildings. Bases and spotters are vital to not only get the flyers in the air, but also require strength, balance, and firm footing: all essential skills for a ninja. The Scorpion can be used to escape almost any kind of shackle. The Liberty Cradle can be used to kick enemies in the face before falling to safety. Cheerleading is kind of the Forrest Gump of the world, when you really think about it…it’s connected to pretty much every major event.